Japanese battery development companies NGK Insulators and Sumitomo Electric Industries are working with the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry to find ways of driving down the costs of energy storage within the country.
Up to 75% of funding for the separate development projects will come from the government, for which 2.7 billion yen has been set aside this year. Funding will continue until 2018, however if progress is not satisfactory the companies may be asked to repay part of the subsidies.
The government is pushing energy storage development to bolster grid power and compensate for intermittent energy from renewable sources. Within the next seven years, the Japanese government wants to cut the installation cost of energy storage systems connected to renewable sources to below US$234 per kWh.
At present, NGK, manufacturer of sodium-sulphur batteries, has production costs of 40 000 yen (US$402) per kWh, which the company is working to reduce. Sumitomo Electric of Osaka, developer of vanadium storage batteries, does not have a commercial product.